Westborough Town Meeting may consider Indigenous Peoples’ Day petition

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Westborough town iconWESTBOROUGH – A citizen’s petition may soon ask Westborough Town Meeting voters to recognize and refer to the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. 

This comes after the Select Board voted 3-2 against supporting a recommendation from the Diversity and Inclusion Committee to locally replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day back in October. 

Petitioner anticipates ‘a lot of interest’ in article

Town Manager Kristi Williams discussed the draft warrant for Westborough’s upcoming Annual Town Meeting during a Select Board meeting on Jan. 25.

She noted the Indigenous Peoples’ Day petition, saying that the petitioner had asked for it to be moved to a point earlier in the Town Meeting schedule.

“It’s anticipated that there will be a lot of interest in the article,” Williams said of that rationale. 

The town will ask the petitioner to speak with the Select Board prior to Town Meeting. 

Previous proposal was supported by Diversity and Inclusion Committee

Diversity and Inclusion Committee chair Cara Presley encouraged the Select Board to adopt her committee’s proposal at multiple meetings last year prior to their eventual vote.

She noted the steps the committee had taken to learn about the day. Those included consulting with the founder of Indigenous Peoples’ Day Massachusetts, which describes itself as a coalition working to get legislation supporting the adoption of Indigenous People’s Day passed in Massachusetts. 

“By replacing Columbus Day, we honor the perseverance of indigenous people, despite their suffering at the hands of European colonists, led by Columbus, who overtook inhabited lands and committed genocide of indigenous people,” Presley said on July 20. 

Some community members spoke out against the proposed change, however, arguing that Columbus Day should be preserved as a recognition of Italian American heritage, among other things.

Westborough Knights of Columbus Council 85’s Joe Black said the council supported and encouraged a separate holiday for Indigenous people. He said the petition in favor of the replacement wasn’t supported by scholarship, though, and said the introduction of Indigenous Peoples’ Day shouldn’t come at the expense of Columbus Day.

“Both can be observed in the spirit of tolerance, inclusion, understanding and appreciation of history,” Black said.

Contacted by the Community Advocate, Presley said the Diversity and Inclusion Committee is not involved in this latest petition to introduce Indigenous People’s Day. 

She said she did not know who had put forward this petition.

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